The first Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, touched down on Tuesday at Cardiff Airport where it was welcomed with a celebratory water cannon salute and greeted by the Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan, Janice Charles.
The new service will connect Cardiff to more than 150 business and leisure destinations worldwide, the Doha-based carrier has said in a statement.
On board the inaugural flight to Cardiff, Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker was joined by Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns, First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, UK ambassador to Qatar Ajay Sharma and Cardiff Airport chairman Roger Lewis.
To celebrate the special occasion, the airline flew its ultra-modern Airbus A350-900 to Cardiff, providing VIP guests with an “opportunity to experience the state-of-the-art aircraft”.
This was the first time a commercial passenger Airbus A350-900 aircraft, whose wings are built by Airbus in Wales, has landed on Welsh soil.
The Qatar Airways flight touching down at Cardiff Airport on Tuesday.
Going forward, Qatar Airways has said it will operate its daily Cardiff service with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which has a two-class configuration - including 22 seats in Business Class offering passengers direct aisle access with its 1-2-1 configuration, as well as 232 seats in Economy Class.
Al-Baker said, “Today marks an especially important milestone for both Qatar Airways and Cardiff Airport. The new service, our fifth gateway into the UK, now provides the people of Wales and the South West with an extensive network of more than 150 destinations globally. We are delighted to welcome Cardiff into our route network, and to be able to provide the Welsh people with a new gateway to the world. We look forward to welcoming our new Welsh passengers on board and to connecting them to Doha and many points beyond.”
Cairns noted, “The first direct flight from Cardiff to Qatar plugs Wales straight into an area of massive investment and an airport with 150 onward destinations around the world. This is the fast track for Welsh companies doing business in the Gulf.
“Qatar is the UK’s third largest export market in the Middle East and accounts for £35bn of existing investment. Passengers disembarking from the first direct flight from Doha to Cardiff will get the unmistakable message that Wales is open for business.”
Jones said, “I am delighted to welcome the first Qatar Airways flight from Doha to our capital city, Cardiff. The new direct service between Cardiff and Doha is a huge boost for Wales. It will open up Wales' links with the rest of the world and deliver new economic, leisure and travel opportunities for Welsh businesses and the people of Wales.
“Providing a direct route into the world's fastest growing hub airport, Hamad International Airport, will also bring Wales closer to leading global markets such as India, China, Singapore and Australasia.”
Lewis added, “This is a pivotal moment for Cardiff Airport, for Wales and the South West of England. The far-reaching consequences of this service for passengers and businesses will be transformational. The critically important relationship between Qatar, Wales and the United Kingdom is substantially strengthened today.”
The launch of the new route to Cardiff is Qatar Airways’ first-ever service to Wales, providing passengers with “enhanced connectivity to the Middle East, Asia and Australia, with seamless connections to Sydney, Hong Kong, China, Melbourne and many more attractive business and leisure destinations”, the statement notes.
Qatar Airways currently serves London Heathrow, Manchester, Birmingham, and Edinburgh, with service to London Gatwick to commence on May 22.